“Not my team. Despise a lot of their brand and culture” yet Roger Mitchell gives cap doff to the Rangers

Former SPL chief executive Roger Mitchell likes to stir the pot shall we say – and with his latest social media offering he has been mixing it yet again.

Mitchell is perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but his opinions on Celtic come from the right place. After all he seems to have the sort of balance between arrogance and ambition that would make him – should he be able to deliver some substance alongside the belly rumblings – the sort of figure, who in theory, could push the club in an upward and modernising trajectory. Although with those in the current Celtic boardroom having a somewhat more conservative outlook, appointing Roger Mitchell isn’t something that’s ever likely to happen anytime soon.

This time out Mitchell took to social media to (incorrectly) point to Celtic apparently riding the coattails of theRangers co-efficient points to qualify automatically for the Champions League, but it’s in his observation regarding European progression that Mitchell is willing to put his head above the parapet and cares not a jot if it gets shot at.

“Not my team. Despise a lot of their brand and culture. Rangers in Europe have been achievers. And that always needs a cap doff. We (Celtic) got in automatically thanks to THEIR work with the coefficient. And despite being horsed by all and sundry in recent years. Well done.

“Ange now needs to show what he really has built. Many think his team is special. We shall see only now. Scottish results mean absolutely nothing, and haven’t done for at least a decade. You are judged by Europe.”

With the Rangers European run of last season, ending as it did in defeat, perhaps the use of the word ‘achievers’ is as step too far. After all, if you are to be as ambitious as Mitchell states he’d like Celtic to be, then another brave failure doesn’t quite cut it. Meanwhile in terms of the co-efficient points, last season’s Europa League runners-up at Ibrox run to the final hasn’t yet been taken into account. Indeed, in terms of this season’s champions league places being based on co-efficient from seasons 2016/17 to 20/21 Celtic gained the superior co-efficient points.

Of course, it would be churlish not to point out that for future seasons theRangers run to Seville will have much more of a bearing, and to get caught up in the semantics would also mean missing the real point Mitchell is trying to make. Celtic need to start cutting it in European football.

Today’s Champions League draw brings with it a great deal of excitement, but it also brings trepidation, as for every glory night many other European ties have indeed seen Celtic ‘horsed’ as Roger Mitchell succinctly put it.

Ange Postecoglou has given the football department at Celtic a kick up the backside and after a season where the wheels came off, the manager has rebuilt Celtic far more quickly than really should have been possible. Yet that is step one for any Celtic boss.

I’m not sure writing off domestic results over the last 10 years helps Mitchell put his point across, as after all, without the domestic dominance you don’t get European football and cannot in turn impact on those co-efficient points, but his underlying message of European progression is one that is very honest.

Celtic have been five years out the Champions League group stage – and it is 18 years since the club managed to win a knock-out European game after Christmas, indeed we’ve won just one leg of post-Christmas knockout football since eliminating Barcelona in 2004 – a 1-0 first leg win over Zenit St Petersburg under Brendan Rodgers. To that end Mitchell is very right to claim Celtic have underachieved in Europe and correct to consider that is where Celtic should be judged.

In truth this campaign may well come too soon for Postecoglou, but the experience of this season’s competition and continued investment at boardroom level in his vision for the club, could and should see Celtic compete again amongst Europe’s elite clubs – and soon.

There is no doubting Ange Postecoglou’s coaching credentials, nor can you write off last year’s success as mattering little because it occurred in Scottish football, but in truth Celtic should be winning league titles more often than not, with only one real challenger each and every season, and in Europe is where a club the size of Celtic must surely be judged.

Celtic have been found lacking in that area and that’s no surprise when the message from the boardroom has been defeatist, as we saw from our soon to depart Chairman’s response to assembled shareholders at the 20/21 AGM.

“If we talk about Europe, it’s a much different environment to what it was 20 years ago. We all know that, you know that. You go into the Champions League and you get absolutely pasted by the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona. Celtic Football Club is not the Qatar Government. There’s a whole set of different players out there with completely different pockets.”

That sends out altogether the wrong message. Celtic have a route to Champions League football qualification which should in most years should be manageably navigated by forward planning, preparation and a belief we belong there. For too long Celtic have been habitually ill-prepared summer after summer. If we had a plan it seemed to be to move from season to season and transfer window to transfer window, rather than have any real mix of medium to long term strategical planning attached – the responsibility for that lies ultimately in the boardroom.

Yet now we have a manager who has ambition, he appears to be getting the backing required in targeting players, improving the infrastructure surrounding the football department, and being offered – at this stage anyway – a level of autonomy his progress has earned him.

Have lessons been learned? You’d like to think and hope so – although there is always a worry boardroom decision making could interfere. And although my opinion differs from Roger Mitchell as to whether European progression should happen in this season or next, his assertion that Celtic need to step up in Europe after regularly underachieving for far too long is spot on. Even if there was an element of stirring in his social media post.

This afternoon’s Champions League draw will pit Celtic against some of the biggest teams in Europe – and it will be daunting. Yet when we come through the ties, knowledge will be banked and lessons learned by players and manager alike.

That bodes well for incremental improvements in European performances, alongside increased expectation and desire to be the best we can be in future campaigns. If that all clicks, then when Celtic are indeed ‘judged by Europe’ then perhaps it will be as favourable as it is overdue.

And if not? Well, there’s a former SPL Chief Executive hanging around Lake Como who has a few ideas of his own.

Niall J

Incidentally this excellent article – titled Why Sky shouldn’t be the limit for Scottish football – was published last night on The Celtic Star and has also gone under the radar due to the attention being on the Champions League qualifiers. I thought that Bodø/Glim were very unlucky not to win the tie in the 90 minutes against Dinamo Zagreb then they were hit with two quick-fire sucker punches deep into extra-time so it’s the Europa League for our old pals from the Arctic Circle.

Anyway here’s the link to this excellent article by Mark Nicholas…

READ THIS…Why Sky shouldn’t be the limit for Scottish football

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

Comments are closed.